SALEM, Ore. – Virgil Taylor was just 25 years old when his ship, the USS California, was attacked at Pearl Harbor 70 years ago.
“I was down in the engine room and we had just got our main engine rolling,” said Taylor.
The ship was hit by 2 torpedoes and a bomb that Taylor says would have killed him if he had not been in the engine room protected by 4 inches of armor. Taylor, 95, still remembers what he saw when he came to the top of the deck.
“When I went to top side it was changed up there because it just opened up,” Taylor said.
Wednesday, the 70th anniversary of the attack, Taylor attended a vigil at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Salem. He received a proclamation signed by Ore. Governor John Kitzhaber declaring Dec. 7 “Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.” The attack brought the United States into World War II.
Taylor said he was only planning to serve 4 years in the Navy but ended up serving 20 years. He retired in 1957.
When asked what goes through his mind on Dec. 7, an emotional Taylor said he remembers the men he served with.
“I think of a lot of the guys I knew. That’s about it.”